Autumn Rose Ikebana

I finally had the time and money to stop by the florist’s today to see if anything inspired me. After a bit of browsing I came across these gorgeous miniature roses that reminded me of autumn foliage. It’s actually been snowy here for nearly a week already, but I’m determined to ignore that for as long as possible, and I thought they’d make a beautiful farewell to the season.

Alex, the kind and friendly owner of the florist shop, suggested the stem of large, shiny green leaves as some contrast foliage, and they look great. I’ve sadly forgotten what they’re called. I also wanted to practice forcing a curve in a stem without breaking it, and I think I’ve finally got the hang of it! The branch was originally perfectly straight, but I managed to get a nice, natural-looking curve to frame out the roses perfectly. It was feeling a little bit empty so I picked up some of this fluffy yellow plant at the flower counter in the pharmacy to fill it in a little bit, and it feels much more balanced now.

I’ve missed practicing my ikebana, and I feel like things generally weren’t flowing as well as they used to because I was rusty. But this turned out very much how I’d envisioned it, and I think it features the flowers perfectly, so I’m quite happy.

Fukiyose Ikebana

Fukiyose (吹き寄せ) is an autumn motif comprised of wind-blown foliage, pine needles, and other vegetal vestiges. From the very beginning of my ikebana journey, I’ve known I wanted to attempt an arrangement based on fukiyose. Unfortunately, Japanese maples are exclusively a prized and well-guarded ornamental plant here, so it’s not as though I had easy access to one, and it felt vital to the composition.

However, my aunt now has one in her garden and was kind enough to allow me to liberate a small branch. Once I had that in hand, getting the other bits was much easier. The neighbourhood where I live has planted ornamental ginkgo trees in a lot of public areas, and I’ve been assured in the past that so long as I’m careful and respectful of the plants I’m welcome to harvest a branch or two. So I grabbed a couple of those on the way home, and then used some of the pine boughs from a tree in our yard.

I have to admit, arranging branches in a way that looks natural but still intentional and aesthetically pleasing is more difficult than I’d anticipated! It’s hard finding that perfect space between “unruly and messy” and “overly forced”, and I’m honestly not sure I accomplished it as well as I’d like. But I’d been dying to do this arrangement for so long, and didn’t have easy access to different maple branches, that I wasn’t going to give up. A few leaves fell while I was arranging them but I think it adds to the wind-blown feel so I left them there, and it helped with the balance. There’s a good circular fluid motion to the whole composition, so it feels finished and cohesive to me, at the very least.

This may not be my favourite ikebana ever but I persevered and got it done, and I am proud of that. I do know that lately I haven’t been posting as many ikebana arrangements as I used to, but unfortunately my access to blooms from the great outdoors is over for the season, and I’m in a situation where my budget for things like fresh-cut flowers is basically zero for now. But there will be more whenever I can splurge a little!

October Rust – MonoKimono Challenge & Fudangi First Friday

I’m cheating today. Someone alert the authorities! Typically, the #MonoKimono challenge occurs on the last weekend of the month, and Fudangi First Friday occurs on, well, the first Friday. However, I had other things on my mind this past weekend, and I know this weekend is going to be quite busy, so I figured I’d take advantage of a free afternoon and combine the two smack in the middle of the week.

It’s finally, mercifully, starting to feel like Autumn here so that was my jumping-off point. I had to build an outfit that was both casual and monochrome, so it felt like the right time to bust out my rusty red-orange wool komon. My Tokaido hanhaba obi is an absolute spot on match for the kimono, even down to the yellow accent colour matching the yellow weave.

I’ve seen this sort of hanhaba musubi that almost looks like a miniature otaiko and wanted to give it a shot. It worked out quite well, I think. I also like the pop of contrast the yellow side offers – it echoes the yellow han-eri on the front view and helps draw attention to the subtle pattern in the kimono itself. I still think it’s subtle enough and in a close enough colour range to count as monochrome, too. While an obijime isn’t a necessity with this sort of an outfit, I did need it for this particular musubi and I just happened to have one that was another perfect match. I’m pretty sure this is the most monochrome outfit I’ve put together for this challenge so far.

Another reason I wanted to get this outfit on the mannequin is that I have something very neat in the works, and wanted her in something that felt seasonal and was nice to look at but also was very much a “background” feel and not something ornate that would steal the focus away. I’m being evasive now, but I promise I’ll tell you all what it’s for very soon!

Items used in this coordination

Harvest Gold

Does anyone remember harvest gold appliances? Thankfully we never had any in my household but we did have an avocado green dishwasher for a very long time! It’s funny how colours go and out of fashion, isn’t it? And how they can look so lovely on a kimono but so ghastly in a kitchen!

This kimono was actually the emergency back-up I purchased for Belle’s outfit, after it seemed like the one I wanted had got lost in the post. Eventually the first one did show up, so I got to use it as I’d planned, but it seemed like quite a shame for this gorgeous vintage piece to languish in storage so I vowed to do something with it today.

My initial plan was a gold obi, but since I wasn’t doing the Belle outfit anymore I figured I had more freedom, but for some reason I had a heck of a time finding a coordination that did the piece justice. Most of my obi were either too flashy and metallic or too dark, and the soft, delicate quality of the yuzen around the hem would have been completely overwhelmed. Then I thought I could use the yellow nagoya obi I used last week but that seemed repetitive and overly monotone. Then I debated an orange hakata and a grey masculine-feeling nagoya that both didn’t quite work either. Then I found this beautiful dusty taupe nagoya with a subtle bit of gold. It perfectly balanced the kimono, pulling out the grey-brown tones of the flower cart and helping anchor it. Simple green accessories and one of the charming new subtle haneri I bought rounded things off.

The outfit feels very soft and elegant to me, stylish in a very understated sort of way that looks fantastic on a mannequin but I could probably never pull off in person! It also feels very seasonal right now, despite having more spring and summer flowers on it. The colours reflect the changing leaves outside, which makes me very happy.

Items used in this coordination

Thanksgiving Ikebana

Here in Canada, Thanksgiving falls on the first Monday of October. In my house, we’ll often invite over a group of friends who don’t have big loud extended families to celebrate with. We go all-in, turkey and stuffing and homemade pumpkin pie. The works.

This year I decided to use what I’ve been learning about ikebana to create a centrepiece for the table, as a way to celebrate Thanksgiving and a way to look back on the recent harvest moon. I wanted to stick to the traditional shin/soe/hikae form in a straightforward moribana-style arrangement, and I wanted something that felt warm, welcoming, and harvest-friendly. The first things I found at the florist’s were some purple thistle flowers and small yellow blossoms that screamed autumn to me. The curly branches came next, adding height and structure to the arrangement, but it still felt lacking. I stepped into the back cold storage where they keep the fillers and unusual items and the ornamental cabbage called out to me. It’s got a great weight to it, totally fits the feel of autumn/harvest, and it even has delicate purple veining that helps echo the spiky thistle blossoms. I tucked the whole thing into a small green vase that nearly disappears under the cabbage, which worked out really well. It’s almost as if I’ve plucked the whole arrangement straight out of the garden. Some warm yellow and orange candles tied the whole thing together, infusing it with even more warmth and welcome feeling.

I have a lot to be thankful for in my life. I am surrounded by family and friends who love me. I have a job I enjoy, and hobbies I love to fulfil me. My health could be better, but it could also certainly be much worse, and I am lucky to live in a place where I don’t have to worry about medical emergencies bankrupting me. Sometimes there are days when I feel like everything is terrible, and I would do well to remind myself how few and far between those days are. The world feels like it’s falling apart sometimes, we’ve all got to take a moment to focus on the good things, wherever they come from. What are you thankful for this season? Please let me know!